Olympic Mountains: Mt. Washington

The weather in Washington has been absolutely beautiful and I really wanted to get outside and take advantage of it so while I was at the Rainiers’ game with my family I sent a message to my cousin, Daniel. After our adventure on Gold Mountain at Christmastime, he’d said he was always up for more adventure so I was hoping that was still the case.

Happily for me, he agreed and I quickly started searching for some hike options. I really love the Olympic Peninsula so it really wasn’t a surprise that of the four choices I sent him, three were on the peninsula. I was totally pumped when he agreed to tackle my first choice, Mt. Washington. At 6,255′ it is the most prominent peak in Mason County with 2,615′ of clean prominence.

Mt. Washington Trail

The Mt. Washington trail is not an official Forest Service trail and starts out really steeply from the parking lot. And when I say steeply, I mean that we gained 1,600′ in the first mile. Fortunately, it was a really beautiful hike. There were lots of wildflowers and the views to the east just kept getting better as Mt. Rainier appeared and then all of Hood Canal and then some of Puget Sound.

Wildflowers

In places (like the slope Daniel is standing on in the photo below) the trail was covered in scree and made for tough climbing in spots. It was always a relief when we switched to climbing up roots and rocks.

Daniel on trail

Beth on Mt. Washington Trail

 

As we climbed up higher and higher I got more and more giddy. I absolutely love climbing in the high alpine during the summer and I haven’t gotten to do that in Colorado yet this year!

Towards Mt. Ellinor

Daniel on Mt. Washington Trail

 

I really love this photo I took of Dan:

Daniel

 

Beth and Lake Cushman

 

Seriously, I’m not joking, I was giddy:

Stream channel selfie; Beth

 

We reached a great stopping point just shy of the half way point (in elevation gain) and had some snacks and enjoyed the view.

Panorama from high meadow

Ridge panorama from high meadow

Climbing it because it's there

 

After refueling, we started the final push for the summit. First, we passed through a small meadow filled with bear grass flowers:

Wildflowers

Ascending from meadow

 

Then we started to work our way up the headwall toward the the ridgeline:

Headwall

Beth on Mt. Washington Trail

Daniel on Mt. Washington trail

Mt. Washington trail

Hood Canal and Lake Cushman

 

The trail to the summit was really pretty and I enjoyed the final easy scramble to the summit. Plus, the views to the west and the interior of the Olympics were absolutely amazing!

Mt. Washington trail

Hood Canal

Panorama from summit of mt. Washingotn

Beth and Daniel Summit Selfie

 

One of the things that I really love about climbing more than one mountain in an area is seeing mountains from more than one angle. The mountain below is Mt. Ellinor that I climbed in 2005:

Mt Ellinor

 

Coming from Colorado I also appreciated the green in the lower reaches of the trail on the way down. I’ve always felt that there is nowhere else you can go and see more shades of green in one place!

image

Beth on Mt. Washington Trail

 

Back at the car, we changed into flip flops, stared up at the mountain and headed back down to Hoodsport.

Mt. Washington from trailhead

 

Hoodsport Coffee Co. serves Olympic Mountain Ice Cream which is seriously fantastically delicious ice cream. I devoured one scoop of vanilla habanero followed by one scoop of lemon lavender. Daniel had vanilla and cappuccino chip.

 

 

 

 

Olympic Mountain Ice Cream

 

Mt. Washington was a great hike that had a lot of elements that I loved: a summit, great high elevation scrambling, amazing views, and it inspired more summits; plus it has one of my favorite ice cream brands at the base. It was all made better by getting to hang out with my cousin who I rarely get to see. As always, I’m excited to get back to the Olympics next visit home!

P.S. Congratulations to Daniel for wrapping up a successful college career and graduated from Central Washington University the Saturday before the hike!

#OmniGames: Season 4

Storytelling is one of the oldest arts humans have. Present in all cultures, the art of telling a story worth hearing from even the most exciting adventures is a skill. Skilled storytellers are able to evoke strong responses from their listeners such that they want to hear more of a story.

When Columbia named the story telling challenge “Charles Dickens” they set a very high bar. Each Christmas, I reread A Christmas Carol and am fascinated by the imagery that the long Victorian sentences evoke and his Tale of Two Cities is one of my favorite books of all time. Outdoors story telling (which is the best of storytelling about #tryingstuff) has a storied history of its own with greats like Ed Abbey and Jon Kraukour setting a high bar.

While I’ve got a little extra #tryingstuff up my sleeve in the storytelling department, I’m going to do my best to tell the story of what happened on an amazing trip to Park City in the best way I know how: words. (With a few photos thrown in for good measure!) May the words of the greats inspire my fingers! And now, without ado, my #omniten adventure:

 

Season 4 had a very special experience at the #omnigames. The trip to Park City was our very first trip as members of the #omniten: unlike the members of the Spring 2012 and 2013 crews and Fall 2012 group we were showing up not knowing as many people. The trip had seemed like it was a long time coming but it was finally time to make the journey. I left Quartzsite, Arizona in the wee hours last Monday excited for any adventures Columbia could cook up.

Hyatt Escala Park City

Arriving at the hotel, I was whisked up to the #omniten Hub, signed my life away (snowmobiling, what?!), and given the game plan for the evening. Here’s where the nomad girl in me got (even more) excited: shower everyday for the next weekTori thought this was slightly odd and encouraged me to shower that minute. True to #omniten form, I was able to find some people who totally understood me and my excitement:Gina and Katie.

Up in my room (post shower of course), I rummaged through the giant duffle bag of Columbia gear that I’d been given. Trying on the gear I alternated between total gear junky delight and vehicle dweller panic: so much great stuff! so little room! Refreshed and excited, I headed down to the Hub where I met the rest of the crew. I’d already made real life contact with Josh before at OR Show but before I knew it I was chatting with Patrick in the shuttle, being hugged by Heidi, in turn hugging Dave, meeting Seth and his beard, chatting wine with Derek, and feeling intimidated by the ski prowess of Andy. Sadly, I also learned due to weather back east Wendy wouldn’t be joining us and that Michelle was delayed.

#omniten #s4
Photo courtesy Patrick Gensel

After introductions were made and beers were opened, Daniel gave us a rundown on Columbia’s #tryingstuff philosophy starting with this video. Then he gave us a rundown on the rest of our week: skiing, Olympic freestyle uniform unveiling press conference, a concert in downtown Park City, going to the VIP tent for the World Cup Mogul final, and then the enigmatic #omnigames.

Foie gras, The Farm

The Season 4 bonding really kicked off that night over an awesome dinner at The Farm. #tryingstuff was in full effect with foie gras, bone marrow, rabbit and more. Heidi, Josh, and I also did some teamwork practice by ordering three different entrées and three different desserts to sample them all! The party continued back at the hotel as the first of our nights in the hot tub.

Photo courtesy Run.Around.Aroo
Photo courtesy Heidi Kumm

Tuesday morning it was time for me to get back on skis for the first time in five years. I knew that I hadn’t forgotten how but I was a bit worried I would be able to keep up with the rest of the group. Pointing my skis down the hill outside ski valet, heart in my throat, I found that I was able to cruise right down to the lift and my spirits immediately rose. Skiing with the group was the best. It was fun to have people to laugh with. Although I cut my afternoon session a bit short, I was pleased with the fact my legs weren’t too sore after being on the slopes (must have been the sand running).

Photo courtesy Patrick Gensel
Photo courtesy Patrick Gensel

The next morning was super exciting: the rest of the #omniten were starting to roll into town! I’ve been following a whole lot of these people via Twitter for a long time and was pumped to finally meet them. After a morning ski session, Season 4 was in for one more special treat just for us: attending the press conference unveiling the Olympic Freestyle uniforms for the United States, Canada, and Russia.

Team USA skicross uniform

Going to a press conference doesn’t sound that exciting but when you’re a huge Olympic geek like me, this was an awesome experience. Being some of the first to glimpse the uniforms (and being put on a social media gag order until later that evening), I started to feel that little tingle of energy that indicates something awesome. That something was listening to some of the American athletes talk about their Olympic experiences. There’s no denying it: I teared up listening to Heather McPhie talk about walking into an Olympic stadium with Team USA.

Beth with US Olympic Athletes

After the press conference, we headed to downtown Park City and the No Name Saloon to unite with the rest of the #omniten. I’m so glad that we were able to arrive early to spend some time together as a smaller unit. I don’t doubt for a second that if the #omnigames would have pitted season against season we’d have been a tough crowd to beat.

More awesome storytelling of this awesome #omniten adventure headed your way tomorrow!

Season 4 at Deer Valley Press Conference
Photo courtesy Daniel Green